Tuesday 14 June 2016 15.33 BST
The troubled trajectory of the capital’s backstreet bike routes has repercussions for cycling policy across the country
…..To return to the specific example of London, the quietways programme is hampered by the fact it is built on streets under the control of local councils. And local councils are not bold. That, in the main, is why the quietways programme seems to be failing.
There is a wider issue here: how much longer do politicians permit noisy objectors to veto or delay changes which provably make a town or city more safe?
Business as usual means more pedestrians and cyclists killed, injured and intimidated, it means more early deaths from vehicle smog, it means older people, children, disabled people, the inexperienced and cautious, more or less entirely excluded from being able to cycle on their own streets.
A few weeks ago I spoke to Paul Steely White, who heads Transportation Alternatives, a New York City-based campaign group which helped push for the cycling infrastructure in that city. He used a parallel which struck me. I think it’s entirely relevant to the failing quietways scheme:
It’s akin to being in the time of cholera and saying, ‘We’ve got this engineering approach that involves separating our water from our sewage, and it involves digging up the street – what do you think about this? Are you OK with this?’
There’s a way to design streets now that kill many fewer people and are much fairer, more equitable and more efficient,
and we’re just going to do it, dammit.